Emery: Democrats wrote their obituary with passage of health care bill 

History was made Sunday in several ways. The health care reform bill passed is a historical change, and a massive expansion of government. It was also the first major bill to be passed against the will of the country, to be passed by only one part of one party, and in the face of a wave of public revulsion, expressed over ten months in such different outlets as mass demonstrations, three big elections and polls.

It was not only not bipartisan, but it was less than one party, in the sense that the great war of passage was the attempt by the leaders to force their members to vote in a way that outraged their constituents, by way of threats, ultimatums and bribes.

It’s the first bill whose supporters say they have to sell it now after passage, as they failed so spectacularly to sell it the first time. It’s the first whose passage was greeted with cries for repeal by so many mainstream and respected political leaders, the first to be challenged in court right off the bat by two different state governments, with 30-plus more in the wings.

If this has the sense of a civic rebellion, it is one, and for a good reason. Members of Congress who passed the bill are the constitutionally and legitimately elected representatives of the voters in question, but, at least in this instance, they are legislating consciously and defiantly against those voters’ will.

Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., voted for health care, and Nebraska detests it. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., voted for health care, and Arkansas hates it. Massachusetts’ two senators were proud sponsors of health care when it passed in December, and three weeks later the state elected Sen. Scott Brown on a pledge to oppose it.

There’s a disconnect here between Congress and voters that is causing the system to buckle in places, as voters maneuver and struggle to make themselves heard. Passage increased the debate and the anger, instead of resolving them. They won’t be resolved very soon.

Do the names Mark Foley, Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay ring bells? They should, as revulsion with them is one reason health care is passing.

Another reason is the panic and meltdown in fall 2008. Iraq had been stabilized, and Sen. John McCain led in early September, but the financial implosion changed everything. Independents and swing states swung hard to President Barack Obama, leading him to a seven-point margin, pickups in purple and red states and large gains in the Senate and House.

Congress stayed where it was, but by mid-2009 the independents and swing states had moved back to the center, fleeing Obama and his agenda, while the liberals in office remained. Elections in 2009 would have solved this, but there were just two of them. The rest have to simmer and wait.

Examiner columnist Noemie Emery is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of “Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families.”

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